South African trade unions have declared a national shutdown in protest against high unemployment rates and soaring prices for basic commodities, South African media reported on Wednesday.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are organizing marches and pickets across the country to show growing discontent over the deteriorating economic situation in the country, the SABC broadcaster reported.
“The reason of our shutdown is that once workers go to the street it becomes the last resort,” the COSATU provincial secretary Gerald Twala told the broadcaster, adding that “we have actually been engaging for a very long time with our government on many socio-economic and work challenges and the government is not listening.”
The COSATU first Deputy President Mike Shingange said that the rising cost of living is putting severe financial pressure on the working class and the unemployed, and both the government and the private sector are responsible for providing South Africans with help, according to the report.
“You’ll know that those who are likely to be employed today, they’re unable to transport themselves to work because the salary that they’re taking home is actually less than they’re using to go to work,” Shingange was quoted as saying by the SABC broadcaster.
He noted that trade unions “are trying to say to policymakers and captains of industries, particularly the private sector, must rethink the policies that they’re following,” the report said.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation and soaring gas, food and transport prices are severely aggravating the unstable situation in South Africa, which is already suffering from the high levels of crime and violence, along with mass unemployment due to the influx of migrants.